A note from Lindsey: This review was written part of a tiny two-blog blogathon. Todd of Cinema Monolith posted a review on the same day as I. Check out his piece, in which he describes Invasion of the Star Creatures as “incredibly asinine and woefully mistitled.”
Also, TYPO ALERT: I accidentally listed the release year as 1952 when this was originally posted. My apologies! I was blinded by the awfulness of the film.
“This is a true story, only the facts have been distorted.”
So say the opening credits of Invasion of the Star Creatures, a 1962 sci-fi/comedy starring Bob Ball and Frankie Ray. Bruno VeSota directed the film, which was at one time released as a double bill with the far superior The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.
Ball and Ray are a pair of soldiers, Private Philbrick and Private Penn, who are tired of their monotonous duties at the Army base. They’re soon assigned to a scouting mission, inspecting a cave that has been discovered near their base.
While on the mission, Philbrick and Penn become separated from their fellow soldiers, and they’re attacked by strange creatures who cart them off on a spaceship which is occupied by intimidating space ladies.
From the opening, this film has a lot of corn, but not exactly the good kind of corn. There are some funny gags and dailogue, such as the mispronunciation of “Sputnik” as “Spitunick” and the utterance of “Hey man, what’s goin’ on here like man what’s happenin’?” but these attempts at humor get old quite quickly.
It becomes clear as the film progresses that the writers are trying incredibly hard to make a hilarious parody of the science fiction genre, but they tried so hard that any redeeming qualities that Invasion of the Star Creatures could have had are eclipsed by the obvious overabundance of effort that was poured into trying to make the film funny. Genre parodies can at times be very successful (see: 1933’s Lady Killer), but only if they’ve got a sense of effortlessness to them. The comedy must come from the following of the genre’s conventions alone, with the laughs stemming from the fact that what’s happening on screen is so typical. Slight exaggeration of those conventions is fine, but Star Creatures‘ jabs at the genre are too obvious and over-the-top, and the film also relies too heavily on comedic gags which have nothing to do with parody.
Credit must be given to Ball and Ray for their efforts in the film’s leading roles. They seem like a well-established comedy team (even if their over-the-top brand of comedy isn’t one that I enjoy) and I was surprised to find that they didn’t make more films together. They’re incredibly silly and the try-hard script does them no favors, but I do give them props for being convincing as a comedic pair.
To paraphrase a conversation held by Enid and Rebecca in one of my favorite films, Ghost World, this film is “so bad it’s gone past good and back to bad again,” which is unfortunate. I had high expectations for it based on the super-groovy sci-fi title and the poster, but it failed to impress me in any way.
The score: 0.5/5